On February 2, 2018, I predicted the Illinois Supreme Court holding for People v. Chairez would cause trouble for the unlawful use of a weapon/aggravated unlawful use of weapon (UUW/AUUW) laws regarding firearms in close proximity to special locations.
People v. Chairez struck down the portion of the unlawful use of a weapon statute which prohibited firearms within 1000 feet of a public park. It appeared that the UUW/AUUW law which prohibited firearms within 1000 feet of a public school was indistinguishable from the law which prohibited firearms within 1000 feet of a public park.
On June 14, 2018 in People v. Green, the 1st District Illinois Appellate Court struck down the prior unlawful use of a weapon statute as unconstitutional based on the logic of Chairez. The Illinois Appellate Court used “elevated intermediate scrutiny” for their standard of review, which required the State to show a “very strong” public-interest justification for the regulation and a close fit between the law’s means and its ends. The elevated standard of review was used because firearm regulation implicates core 2nd Amendment rights. The State was unable to meet their burden by merely showing evidence of firearm violence inside of schools. The Court required the State to produce specific evidence which showed that a 1000 foot zone of safety was effective prior to striking down the statute. Ironically, such evidence would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to produce without a law prohibiting firearms within 1000 feet of a protected location. Future enactments of the same statute would likely need to rely on research from other jurisdictions.
Importantly, the logic of People v. Green was the previously predicted simple extension of the logic in People v. Chairez, namely:
While a gun owner can simply choose not to enter locations deemed sensitive, it is manifestly more difficult to avoid areas within 1000 feet of those locations, particularly given that there is no notification where the restriction zone begins or ends. Indeed, the ban at issue here, just as the ban 1000 feet around public parks at issue in Chairez, effectively operates as a total ban on the carriage of weapons for self-defense outside the home in Chicago.
People v. Green, 2018 IL App (1st) 143874.
Perhaps most importantly, the Illinois Supreme Court striking down the unlawful use of a weapon/aggravated unlawful use of a weapon statutes on constitutional grounds means that prior convictions for the same may be subject to a motion to vacate – clearing the name of many current criminals. Much like other statutes that have been struck down on constitutional grounds, there are many people who have been convicted under the unlawful use of a weapon/aggravated unlawful use of a weapon statute which may qualify to have their convictions be undone by the filing of a proper motion.